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Local artists clean up at music awards

Winnipeg's Fred Penner performs with his children after being inducted into the Western Canadian Music Hall of Fame at Club Regent Casino Sunday.

TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Winnipeg's Fred Penner performs with his children after being inducted into the Western Canadian Music Hall of Fame at Club Regent Casino Sunday.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 5/10/2014 (1167 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Make no mistake: in Manitoba, We Speak Music.

Nine Manitoban artists picked up 10 artistic awards at the 12th annual Western Canadian Music Awards, which were handed out at a gala awards ceremony Sunday night at the Club Regent Event Centre.

Alt-country troubadour Del Barber — dubbed Winnipeg's Golden Boy by the gala's host, CBC's Grant Lawrence — led the pack with two wins on the strength of this year's Prairieography, which won Roots Solo Recording of the Year, besting fellow Manitoban Ruth Moody's These Wilder Things. Barber was also named Songwriter of the Year for the song Big Smoke from the same album.

It's two more statues for Barber's trophy case; in 2011, the singer/songwriter picked up a pair of WCMAs for Independent Album of the Year and Roots Solo Recording of the Year for his Juno-nominated 2010 record Love Songs for the Last Twenty. He also won a 2013 WCMA for Roots Solo Recording of the Year for 2012's Headwaters.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 5/10/2014 (1167 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Make no mistake: in Manitoba, We Speak Music.

Nine Manitoban artists picked up 10 artistic awards at the 12th annual Western Canadian Music Awards, which were handed out at a gala awards ceremony Sunday night at the Club Regent Event Centre.

Alt-country troubadour Del Barber — dubbed Winnipeg's Golden Boy by the gala's host, CBC's Grant Lawrence — led the pack with two wins on the strength of this year's Prairieography, which won Roots Solo Recording of the Year, besting fellow Manitoban Ruth Moody's These Wilder Things. Barber was also named Songwriter of the Year for the song Big Smoke from the same album.

It's two more statues for Barber's trophy case; in 2011, the singer/songwriter picked up a pair of WCMAs for Independent Album of the Year and Roots Solo Recording of the Year for his Juno-nominated 2010 record Love Songs for the Last Twenty. He also won a 2013 WCMA for Roots Solo Recording of the Year for 2012's Headwaters.

"I grew up playing hockey and I love winning trophies," Barber said backstage. "It might be a solo award, but it was for a team effort. Particularly for this record; I write songs about the Prairies and I didn't expect people to care about them as much as they have. This record is opening up a lot of doors for me."

Roots Duo/Group Recording of the Year also went to a Manitoba act. The dulcet-voiced ladies of Sweet Alibi snatched up the award for We've Got To, beating out efforts by fellow Winnipeg outfits Little Miss Higgins & The Winnipeg Five and The Bros. Landreth.

Today We're Believers, the Juno-nominated outing from Winnipeg indie-pop experimentalists Royal Canoe, snagged the trophy for Independent Album of the Year. The band is on tour and wasn't able to accept its award. Today We're Believers was also up for Pop Recording of the Year but lost to fellow Winnipeg indie-poppers Imaginary Cities and their 2013 sophomore album Fall of Romance.

"We actually thought Royal Canoe would get it," 'Mag Cities' frontwoman Marti Sarbit laughed onstage when she accepted the award. Backstage, Sarbit and her partner-in-music Rusty Matyas were thrilled. "Obviously, we're really proud of this record and proud to be part of the Western Canadian music scene," said Matyas, who was also named Producer of the Year at the Western Canadian Music Industry Awards, which were handed out at a Ace Burpee-hosted brunch Saturday. Imaginary Cities won in this category in 2011 for its Polaris Music Prize-longlisted debut, Temporary Resident.

The Mariachi Ghost's nearly five-years-in-the-making self-titled debut was named World Recording of the Year. Backstage, bandleader Jorge Requena says he took the award as validation the group's forward-thinking fusion of traditional Mexican music and prog rock "could actually work." "We were inspired by people like Rodrigo Munoz and Marco Castillo who were able to play traditional music in this city and there was an audience for it," he said.

Local blues boys The Perpetrators won Blues Recording of the Year for 2013's Stick 'Em Up, the band's first record since 2008's live album Live at the High & Lonesome Club. "It'd been a long time since we'd made a record," frontman J Jason Nowicki said backstage. "It feels good to be back in the game." The Perps won in the same category in 2005 for The Gas and the Clutch.

Winnipeg indie rockers Federal Lights won Aboriginal Record of the Year for We Were Found in the Fog, besting fellow Manitobans Desiree Dorion and Cassidy Mann. "We're pretty pumped," a visibly shaken frontman Jean-Guy Roy said backstage, the win still sinking in. The band is planning to head into the studio to record a follow up this winter.

Veteran funk collective Moses Mayes picked up a WCMA for Urban Recording of the Year for its fifth album, 2013's Moses Mayes feat. Maiko Watson. The band previously won a WCMA for 2006's Second Ring.

Pop powerhouse marijoseé's sophomore album Pas tout cuit dans l'bec was feted with Francophone Recording of the Year. The francophone force is strong in Manitoba; three other acts — Chez Willi, Lulu et le Matou and Tresor Ezoman — were also nominated in that category. "Stiff competition! Those are my brothers and sisters," marijoseé said backstage. "This award is a great honour. We need events like this to convince us to stay home and make music where we're from."

Venerated children's entertainer and singer/songwriter Fred Penner was inducted into the Western Canadian Music Hall of Fame in recognition of his storied career. He crawled out of a log and into our living rooms every weekday during CBC's now-iconic Fred Penner's Place, which aired from 1985 to 1997. "My knees are almost healed," he joked, performing a crowd-pleasing suite of classics that included Take Good Care of Each Other and The Cat Came Back with all four of his now-grown children providing back-up vocals.

All 21 artistic awards were handed out at Sunday night's gala, which featured performances by Barber — who opened the show with an affecting performance of his WCMA-winning song — Penner, Deep Dark Woods, Dan Mangan, Federal Lights, marijoseé and more. Lawrence's opening monologue highlighted Manitoba's estimable contributions to the Canadian music scene, joking that everything in this town is named after Burton Cummings. "Soon, we're going to be flying into Cummings International — but that just sounds wrong," he quipped.

Manitoba also showed strong at Saturday's Western Canadian Music Industry Awards. The 2014 Industry Builder Award was awarded posthumously to the late, great local music champion Kevin Walters, who died in the summer. No one personified 'industry builder' quite like Walters, who helped found the Prairie Music Awards, the precursor to the WCMAs. He was a pillar of the local music scene; as such, the award has been renamed The Kevin Walters Industry Builder Award in his honour.

In addition to Matyas' win for Producer of the Year, The Park Theatre was named Live Music Venue of the Year, while Cam Loeppky was named Producer and Engineer of the year. Tim Jones picked up Manager of the Tear, while Ron Paley was honoured with the Heritage Award.

The 2015 Western Canadian Music Awards will take place during BreakOut West 2015 in Victoria, B.C. The festival will run concurrently with the 2015 edition of Rifflandia.

jen.zoratti@freepress.mb.ca

Read more by Jen Zoratti.

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Updated on Monday, October 6, 2014 at 8:46 AM CDT: Adds sidebar

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